Saturday, August 6, 2016

Deutsche Bahn

This post is for my brother Brian, a lifelong railroad enthusiast.

On this trip to Germany, like the last trip, we spent a lot of time on trains.  This time, I took pictures since we have nothing like this in the States, where train service is looked on as either a dinosaur or as some fiendish socialist conspiracy to take away our cars.  The results of such an attitude are there for all to see, especially for anyone who has experienced a dirty and damaged Amtrak train arriving 12 hours late.  And Acela!  Hold on to your hats while this train goes maybe 10 mph faster than ordinary train service, and you pay another hundred bucks for those 10 extra mph's.
I love Amtrak, but folks, it just doesn't hold a candle to train service in that other part of the First World in Europe, and especially in Germany.
Deutsche Bahn is Germany's Amtrak.  It is an independent corporation that gets public funding.  Unlike Amtrak, that funding is very generous since millions of people depend on rail service all over the country from great cities like Berlin to rural villages like Westbevern (we visited both, and both had rail service).  Also, rail service -- especially high speed rail service -- is a source of national pride.

There was a time when the USA was proud of its transportation infrastructure that included probably the best and most extensive passenger rail service in the world.  Maybe we will return to that status some day, but I don't expect to live to see it if it ever happens.

Waiting for a train in Osnabrück

Waiting for a regional train to Hamburg in Osnabrück where we had to change from a train coming from Amsterdam.

A regional train passing through the station

A local train that serves mostly the countryside and small towns in the state of Westphalia.

Hamburg Hauptbahnhof

The large and very busy Hamburg Hauptbahnhof.

These stations can sometimes be more crowded and busier than airports.

The S Bahn train to Lübeck arrives.

An engine for the regional train.  I didn't see any diesel engines anywhere.  All the train service is electric so far as I could see.
I noticed that there are completely separate rail networks for passenger and freight trains.  Deutsche Bahn is not saddled with Amtrak's dependence on the generosity of commercial freight lines for track access.  It is this arrangement that is the cause of so much delay and dysfunction on Amtrak.  For that, we can thank Congress.


This is a fairly typical suburban S Bahn (Stadt Bahn or city railroad) station just outside of Hamburg.
The S Bahn is a city railroad that serves cities and their surrounding suburbs, and sometimes intercity rail service when cities are close to each other.  There is the alternative U Bahn (Unter Bahn) that usually serves as a subway in most cities, but also sometimes serves suburban cities.


The very beautiful and not so big or so busy Lübeck Hauptbahnhof.


Nuremberg's magnificent old hauptbahnhof viewed from the medieval city wall.

The Deutsche Bahn Museum near the Nuremberg Hbf.   Germany's first railroad was built in Nuremberg.  This museum is about rail service in Germany from the early 19th century to now.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof

The huge brand new central train station in Berlin.  Note the size of the people and cars in comparison.  Until recently, Berlin never really had a central station.  Like London and Paris, trains from different destinations arrived in different stations in Berlin.

The top level of a gigantic three level glass and steel station.  

Trains arrive on two levels of the station with the mid level serving as a shopping area.  We found a great ice cream cafe on the mid level here.

The very busy midlevel.

Engineers designed the Berlin station to let sunlight penetrate all three levels of the station.  High speed trains usually arrive on the bottom level.  The local S Bahn trains arrive on the top level.

Deutsche Bahn headquarters (right) on the Potsdamer Platz  in Berlin

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof

This was the first European railroad station I ever experienced.  I passed through here twice in 1988 when I arrived from the USA to go to Italy, and when I returned.

The high speed ICE train (InterCity Express) that can go almost 200 mph; this one I think was destined for Paris.  We traveled in these trains a number of times.  The ride was so smooth that I hardly felt that the train was going quite so fast.  And yet there are prominent monitors in the train that remind you how fast it is traveling.  These are objects of great national pride for all the countries in Europe that have them, especially Germany and France.

The Autobahn

You can travel by car in Germany on excellent and well maintained highways.

A bad traffic jam on the Autobahn just outside of Bamberg

Smooth sailing on the Autobahn on the way to Wiesbaden from Frankfurt.  The Autobahn does indeed have stretches where there is no speed limit and drivers can tear down the highway at around 100 mph.  However, it does have speed zones with cameras that take pictures of speeding cars and send the drivers very expensive fines.

Amsterdam Centraal

This station doesn't really belong in this post, but I include it because it is so magnificent.

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